I got back from my trip to Chattanooga yesterday (my “vacation” last week was a working one, just in case you think I’ve gotten too soft with two vacations in three months) and have to admit I wasn’t really looking forward to writing the news roundup in addition to catching up on all sorts of other things. But happily, I found an e-mail from MissPreser J.R. Gordon that did the work for me and for all of the MissPres universe.
Just for the record, J.R. is my new favorite.
Here’s J.R.’s take on the news.
Wow! I can hardly believe that October is half over. There’s been a lot going on around the state since our last Roundup, so let’s get everyone caught up on the news:
Bad news out of Cleveland where Bolivar Commercial reported that the Whistlestop Playhouse was lost to a fire over the weekend and arson is suspected. According to the article “Piece of Cleveland theater history goes up in flames,” the building was originally a depot in Sherrard which was moved to Cleveland in 1958 and has been used as the playhouse for the Cleveland Community Theater group for nearly 50 years. I had hoped a visit to MDAH’s files would turn up a photo of the building before the fire, but I didn’t have any luck. Unfortunately, unlike other recent fires, such as these which Malvaney updated us on recently, there’s almost nothing left of this structure.
Bad news also came this week for Ceres Plantation when the MDAH Board of Trustees did not designate the property as a Mississippi Landmark. Denial of Landmark status likely means that the Port Commission can demolish the structure if it gets in the way of their industrial development plans for the area. We can only hope that the grassroots efforts to try and get the building landmarked got the Commission’s attention and they will try to incorporate the building into their plans. The only story I could find to link was the AP wire that was in the Clarion Ledger and some of the television news sites. The Vicksburg Post is one of my least favorite Mississippi papers since I cannot get to anything online for them, so I don’t know if they had a longer story to begin with or any feedback (either on the article or in the form of editorials) that would have been interesting to share.
Malvaney’s note: I saw a copy of the Vicksburg Post article and the only thing it added to your comments was that the designation vote had been unanimous, which is disappointing, and that “all but one of 83 pieces of correspondence sent to MDAH during a public comment period showed support for preserving the house.”
A couple of updates on stories featured in our last Roundup:
First from Amory, the Monroe Journal reports that the historic First Christian Church has been purchased by the group that wants to turn it into The Windows of Amory MS performing arts center. The steering committee working on the project cleaned up the building for an open house last weekend. “The turnout both surprised and encouraged the group,” the article reports. Sounds like the community supports the concept of the project – which hopefully means that the steering committee will have a good base of volunteers to help them out.
Also an update from Tupelo on the house in Mill Village where major alterations were started without city approval. The story Malvaney shared was that the city ordered the work stopped. Now, a Northeast Mississippi Journal article headline reads “Maximum fines sought for home renovation on South Green Street.” The Tupelo Historic Preservation Commission is recommending the maximum fines allowed based on their ordinance as a way to get the attention of the property owner Tim Hester. If he complies with the law, the Commission will ask for the fines to be reduced.
The city of Ocean Springs announced that they are looking for candidates to fill open positions on the Historic Preservation Commission. I could not find the Candidate Profile form the announcement refers to on the city’s website, but I am sure anyone interested can contact City Hall for the form. You have to act pretty quickly if you want to be considered – the deadline is November 5.
We will have to watch for a similar announcement for Hazlehurst now that the City has passed a historic preservation ordinance. According to the Copiah County Courier, the Chamber of Commerce received an “overwhelmingly positive” response from the community as they worked toward getting the proposed ordinance passed. Sounds like they laid the right groundwork in educating the community on what the ordinance would mean. Good for Hazlehurst!
The good news out of Brandon is that a 1830s cottage not only has been saved from potential demolition and ruin, but it has been done rather quickly by the owner. Cristal Jenkins purchased the house earlier this year and in about six months has been able to rehabilitate – and move into – it. As the Clarion Ledger has been known to do – they ran two stories, one October 6 and one October 12, that were, essentially, the same story, but they are worth the read. The slide show accompanying the article is a treat too as it includes both before and after shots. Way to go Ms. Jenkins!
A couple of pieces from the Meridian Star this week – one is an editorial titled “Reinventing, reviving and resuscitating downtown Meridian” trying to get readers to see the opportunities for the vacant structures in the city’s core. Here’s hoping John McClure – the piece’s author and director of Main Street Meridian – gets some support.
The other piece in the Star is actually about Philadelphia’s plans for a historical museum in the Benwalt Hotel. The plans will be unveiled at a fundraising event on October 23. Besides the museum, they plan to include condos, a rooftop reception plaza, a garden square with sidewalk café as well as a parking garage.
As Halloween approaches, I’ve seen announcements for various “haunted” tours in communities (from homes to cemeteries) around the state. While they all sound fun, the one I most wish I could attend is Historic Jefferson College’s “Horror Week” – which includes a three night Halloween Horror Film Fest and a family friendly “Ghost Tales Around the Campfire.” The article in the Natchez Democrat does not mention the film which will be featured, but you should be able to figure it out from the clues. Since I hate it when people spoil the surprise for me, I’ll leave everyone to check out the article for themselves.
Categories: Amory, Brandon, Demolition/Abandonment, Hazlehurst, Hotels, MS Dept. of Archives and History, News Roundups, Ocean Springs, Philadelphia, Preservation Law/Local Commissions, Renovation Projects, Theaters, Tupelo, Vicksburg